The laid-back elegance of a barn wedding venue sets the tone of your wedding day like no other venue! Whether you’re trying achieve a rustic chic or a country glam wedding day style, the Washington DC area barn venues certainly make for a beautiful, unique setting. But, just with any wedding venue, there’s more to know that meets the eye, but fear not! Today, Janis, owner of Rocklands Farm, is here to help you navigate through all the in’s and out’s of hosting a DC-area barn wedding. Take it away, Janis…

Rockland Farm Wedding Sweet Tea Photography

Photo Credit: Sweet Tea Photography via Wedding Chicks

Farm Barn vs. Barn Venue

If you want an authentic farm feel for your wedding, with chickens pecking in the barnyard, tomatoes on the vine, and baby lambs leaping in the field, find a real working farm. The variety of farm activity surrounding your wedding day makes for a once-in-a-lifetime experience for your guests. Vineyards can be wonderful venues if your guests can wander through the rows of grapes and sample the local wine. If you prefer a more predictable venue, find a barn that doesn’t “live” on a real farm!

Set-Up Time

Many barn venues “flip” weddings, doing 4 to 5 per weekend. Most often this gives you about a five-hour window to decorate and celebrate, and then off you go, and if you exceed your time limit, you will be charged an extra fee. For many brides, the appeal of a barn wedding is the chance for you to put your personal touch with decorations. Some barns will give you a full weekend access, from Thursday to Monday. This allows you to decorate to your heart’s content, and you can celebrate with your guests without being fearful of a time limit. It can also be cheaper to have your tent, tables, chairs, and linens delivered on a Thursday or Friday, and picked up on Monday, because these are considered “off days”. Be very clear in your mind how much time you will need, and how much time is offered.

Décor Budget

The Internet provides a plethora of amazing ideas for a DIY rustic farm wedding. Many brides are attracted to this unique venue because they have a burning desire to decorate. But start pricing out the cost of buying those vintage windows, doors, shutters, chandeliers, galvanized buckets, shepherd hooks, mason jars, lanterns, burlap and lace table accents… and you might find that you are racking up quite a decorating bill! Ask the venue if they have any “props” available to you to use without a charge to help keep down those costs. And remember that sometimes “simple” is the best decoration of all. Don’t be afraid to let the architecture of the barn speak for itself.

Farm Friendly Vendors

Working on a farm can pose a challenge to some vendors, so be sure to be very clear when hiring your caterer, photographer, DJ and florist. Ask about access to electricity and water – you and your guests might not want a generator blasting away through the dinner hour! Most venues will allow you to have a walk-through with your vendors prior to signing a contract so your vendors can visualize the exact limitations of the venue. Don’t be afraid to get ideas or recommendations from the venue coordinator – they know the location and may already have working relationships with local vendors. This could save you legwork since those vendors will already be familiar with your location.

Let the Venue Speak

Find the places that show off the best views or showcase the coolest buildings and plan your events around these. Are there gardens? Interesting outbuildings? Scenic vistas? Fences and fields and flowers? Rustic roads near by for that perfect photo? Take your photographers on a walk-through if possible and plan your shots in advance. Don’t forget to run your plans by the venue coordinator – the field you planned to have your big photo shoot in may be a new cow pasture by next June!

Plan for Your Guests

A barn wedding might be a new experience for many of your guests, and you want to make sure they will enjoy it as much as you do! Prepare very good directions to the venue or you might have guests that are lost on rural roads. Set out signs directing guests to the property. Send out the “comfortable shoes” memo more than once and have your girlfriends leave their heels at home! Find out if there is parking close to the barn for your disabled or elderly guests and think about providing alternate transportation for these guests if you are moving around the site (from cocktail hour to dinner to reception). Ask if the parking area has ample lighting for your guests, as it can get dark on a farm!

Don’t be afraid to dream big as you begin to plan your rustic barn wedding. These venues may have more to offer than you think! If you have an idea or concept you want to incorporate, don’t be afraid to ask the venue coordinator, especially during planning stages. Your creativity united with the voice of reason of the venue coordinator will ensure you can have the wedding of your dreams.

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Thank you for all the great advice, Janis! If you’re looking for a gorgeous barn to host your wedding, be sure to check out Rocklands Farm!

To find more Washington DC area wedding advice, check out our tips section with everything from flowers to budgets to venue searches. Don’t forget to look through our amazing DC area wedding vendor guide for all the vendors you’ll need to make it happen and and join the local wedding conversation on our DC area wedding forums!

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